**Although you may not use/acknowledge them, there are more pronouns than he/she in this big beautiful world.**
“Good morning Ms. Harris” Shiloh smiled as they walked up to the hospital bed. “Good morning dear” the old woman said, looking out of the window. Her face was expressionless and Shiloh could already tell it was going to be a long day. The old woman had wispy white hair, wrinkles all over her face, and translucent skin through which her thin veins could be seen. She had a small frame and was skinny. The bed she was laying in was two times her size.
“It’s time for breakfast, Ms. Harris. What would you like?” Shiloh asked with a half-smile and a concerned look.
“Nothing dear, I’m not hungry.”
“You have to eat something, you’ll wither away” Shiloh insisted. With this, Ms. Harris turned away from the window and looked up into Shiloh’s eyes. “Wither away? Have you seen me lately? There’s nothing left to wither.”
“Well, how about I give you a few minutes to look over this morning’s menu and I’ll come back” Shiloh suggested.
“That’s fine dear” Ms. Harris replied, taking the menu. As Shiloh walked out, Ms. Harris placed the menu on the table next to her bed and turned her head once again to face the window.
Three hours had passed and Shiloh still hadn’t heard from Ms. Harris. While they were concerned, the woman had barely eaten anything during her three months under their care. They had come to expect her to go days without eating, yet somehow remain strong.
While Shiloh and Ms. Harris hadn’t known each other for very long, they had rapport with each other. Ms. Harris recognized Shiloh as their primary nurse. She would even ask how they were; giving thoughtful replies if they let it slip that the day was difficult. However, Shiloh knew little to nothing about Ms. Harris aside from the fact that she didn’t eat. They decided this was something they wanted to change. Maybe if they got to know her a bit better, they could convince her to eat.
After their lunch break, Shiloh decided to learn more about Ms. Harris. They were determined to make her last few weeks on earth more bearable than they would be otherwise.
“Hey there, Ms. Harris, how are you doing?”
“Dying, how are you?” she snapped back.
“I’m doing alright.” Shiloh replied trying to remain confident. “I was just on my lunch break, thinking about you.”
“Well isn’t that the sweetest thing” Ms. Harris replied in a mocking tone.
“I was just thinking about the fact that I don’t really know you. I’d love to sit and chat about your life if you’d take the time.” Ms. Harris’ face morphed from perturbed to pleasantly surprised. “No one ever cares enough to listen to me.”
“Well, I do. I’d love to get to know you.”
After a moment’s pause, Ms. Harris agreed to talk with Shiloh. They pulled up a chair next to the hospital bed and perched their elbows on the arm rests, leaning forward to listen.
“I suppose I can begin with where I grew up. It was on a small farm in the town of Würzberg Germany” Shiloh looked visibly surprised. “I lost my accent when I moved to the states as a young girl.”
“My family lived a happy, luxurious life in a mansion and everything.” Ms. Harris’ eyes brightened as she recalled the memory. “But like every dream, nightmares are often mixed in. My father, a pilot fighting for Germany, was shot and killed on the battlefield. My mother and I were devastated.”
“In an effort to cheer her up, I would often care for the house and cook dinner for us. This meant that I was kept from school and therefore didn’t make many friends. I was left to wander around on my own, making up my own adventures. One day I was meandering through the woods behind my house when I came across a deserted cabin. It was farther than I had ever been from the house, so I had never seen it before.”
“When I approached the door, a woman with tattered clothes and matted hair stepped out. Her back hunched over as she came up to me and she looked into my eyes. Suddenly, the most terrifying thing happened. Her eyes went completely black, her teeth elongated in her mouth and grew into sharp spikes, and she lunged at me.”
Shiloh was on the edge of their seat, clutching the arm rests with white knuckles. “This is unbelievable! A crazy lady in the woods attacked you and you’re still here? How did you get away?”
“I ran towards my house. She followed me with inhuman speed and was always right behind me. If I had stopped, she would have gotten me. Thankfully, I was now nearing the part of the woods I recognized. I jumped over a ledge down into a small cave my brother and I would play in. Since the woman was so close, she didn’t have the time to jump. She fell over the ledge and hit her head on a rock right in front of me. Blood poured from the wound and covered the ground. It was horrifying, an image I’ve never forgotten.”
“I can tell” Shiloh said. “That must have been so scary, what happened after that? How did you come to the states?”
“Well…” Ms. Harris started to say, but she was interrupted by a knock at the door.
“Goodness, there you are!” It was their supervisor, Mike. “I’ve been looking for you all afternoon. Mr. Gordon needs his enema in 15 minutes.” Shiloh did their best to refrain from heaving a deep, frustrated sigh.
“Fine, but Ms. Harris, I’ll be back for my dinner break to hear the rest of your stories.” Ms. Harris smiled. “I look forward to seeing you then.”
Mike and Shiloh walked down the hall together towards Mr. Gordon’s room. “When you’re done with this there are fliers at the nurse’s station that I need you to put up.” Shiloh knew they would be reprimanded if they put up a fight, so they nodded and headed into Mr. Gordon’s room, ignoring Mike’s sarcastic wave.
Last week’s story: The Woman on the Yellow Bicycle
Next week’s story: Cursed: Part 2
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